The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Oyo State chapter has called for the inclusion of pharmacists as frontline healthcare providers in the fight against COVID-19 and other epidemics in Nigeria.
The Chairman of the association, Mr Adegboyega Oguntoye made the call in Ibadan on Monday at a news conference to mark the 2021 Pharmacy week.
“The unwillingness on the part of the public to take COVID-19 vaccines could be turned around if they had people they trust to educate them, such as the pharmacists, which will give a positive outcome than what obtains now.’’
Oguntoye expressed concern that even as volunteers, pharmacists were yet to be recognised in Nigeria as frontline healthcare providers, whereas they are the most accessible healthcare professionals closer to the people.
“As luck would have it, our accessibility has grown into trust. This makes sense if you consider the fact that pharmacies are just around the corner in many homes.
“So, if people were told of the safety of vaccines by their pharmacists, they most likely will understand the importance of taking vaccines.
“The roles of pharmacists in vaccine use are becoming increasingly active. In many nations around the world, pharmacists are being trained to administer vaccines, which have positively influenced the rate of vaccination in such places,’’ he said.
He noted the roles of pharmacists in immunisation, patient counseling, and public education, adding that they may also be involved in the vaccination process through history and screening, formulary management and documentation.
According to him, the growing non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and the outbreak of cholera in most states can be stemmed if pharmacists who are the first point of call for people with illnesses are involved as frontline healthcare providers.
Oguntoye, however, called on government at all levels to include pharmacists in all appropriate health committees and institutions to help gather information on disease patterns ahead as well as prevent scarcity of drugs as experienced during the advent of COVID-19.
“It is only in Oyo State in the whole southwest that doesn’t have a single pharmacy in the local government employment and lots of drugs are being consumed at the local level.
“Oyo State Government should resuscitate the state taskforce on wholesome drugs to reduce illicit drugs and drug addiction.
“There are lots of drugs mishandling and wrong storage methods being peddled in unlicensed locations that should be checked,’’ Oguntoye said.
In her remarks, Mrs Yejide Oseni, Southwest Zonal Coordinator, Pharmaceutical Council of Nigeria, said that the council was working assiduously to clamp down on unlicensed drug locations and quacks in the state.
“We are ensuring that all those places where drugs are being sold are registered and also to enforce the places where they are not registered by sealing them off; thereby, ensuring that regulations are enforced,’’ Oseni said.